District 6: Sharon Green Middleton
1. Please describe your educational and professional background and how it has prepared you to serve on the City Council.

My Class was the first graduating class of the new Morgan State "University", were I majored in Secondary Education. After graduation, I began my career as a Teacher/Department Head in a public school system for many years. That experience enhanced my knowledge and skills in public service; I learned to work with youth, parents, seniors, every day hard working citizens, and communities to build stronger partnerships. After continued advanced professional certificates/coursework, I moved on to using my leadership experience at the Maryland State Department of Education working as a Career Specialist and State Advisor to two National Student organizations, Future Leaders of America and Health Occupational Students of America. While at the Department of Education, I also served as the Loaned Executive of the Maryland Charity/ United Way of Central Maryland Campaign. That rewarding experience taught me how to really communicate/network/fundraise for one cause; helping people utilize and support the many resources/civic organizations available in Baltimore and the State of Maryland. As a past Director of the State's Apprenticeship System, and an Elected Member-at Large on the National Association of State and Territorial Apprenticeship Directors; I implemented laws and regulations, coordinated federal issues, monitored standards, prepared for Council meetings, and marketing of the program. More than 30 years of public service, secondary education, career development initiatives and community leadership has prepared and continues to prepare me even more to serve.

2. Why do you want to serve on the council? What would your top priorities be if you are elected?

When I'm re-elected to the council for my second term, my motto will continue to be "Putting people and communities first". My quote from an excerpt from the Baltimore Sun Paper 3/25/07, sums it up, "I'm definitely a hands-on person, and I consider myself a builder of dreams. I'm an organizer. When I was 18 years old, my Dad taught me the importance of voting and took me to vote, and I have been voting ever since. I really think this is a great opportunity to help others, and I'm going to use my leadership and experience to do that. I'm hoping that people in the community will reach out and join me."

My top priorities are the most important quality of life issues to my constituents: Public Safety and Crime Reduction, Economic Revitalization and Job Creation, and Improving Public Education which includes Youth and Senior Services. Educating our youth and bringing more employment to the City would definitely be a morale booster. I want to continue building relationship with all residents in the 6th District to build stronger communities.

3. Do you support Baltimore's current crime-fighting strategy? What changes, if any, would you advocate for to improve public safety in the city?

Yes, I support strategies such as, enhanced prosecution of crimes involving guns and murders. I support the public safety grants for foot patrol, bike patrol, community policing, and violent crime initiatives'. I would advocate for more community involvement with Citizen on Patrol (COP) groups, Bike Patrol, Faith based involvement, and more youth involvement; as well as relationship building with these groups would help tremendously.

4. Do you support the recent reforms in the Baltimore City school system? Do you believe any changes are needed in the schools' governance structure (such as direct mayoral control or an elected school board)?

As a parent of a former student in the Baltimore City Public School System, I believe changes are needed in order to create an environment that is conducive to learning for our youth. How that governance structure is comprised will be a reflection of the community input. A democracy mandates that the people should elect its representatives, and the elected representatives must respond to the people. Therefore, the Baltimore City School Board of Commissioners should begin as partially elected.

5. How would you address the city's backlog in school maintenance and renovations, estimated to be as much as $2 billion?

The backlog in school maintenance and renovations should be rated in a prioritized manner according to its condition. The Baltimore City School System needs to collaborate and partner with the Mayor, City of Baltimore and State Elected Officials to create a Master Plan and incorporate in discussions whether more bond money for school construction from Annapolis and/or a percentage of City slots revenue can possibly be used.

Yes, many of the schools need rebuilding. We need schools with larger classrooms, state of the art technology, and a welcoming environment that promotes better teaching and learning. The decision to rebuild or repair should be made by the Baltimore City School System, elected officials, community, and parents collectively. Each school should be handled on a case by case base.

6. Property taxes have become a major issue in this year's election. Do you believe the city's tax rate needs to be cut? If so, by how much, and what steps would you take to keep the city's budget in balance while lowering the rate?

Yes. It should be a modified gradual approach. I agree with the proposed 9% reduction over 9 years for homeowners. And incorporating a very large percent of slots revenue to support the program from the City's future slots plan for tax relief. Many residents have expressed to me that they feel frustrated because they care about their neighborhood, and work hard to keep their homes in good condition; they are subsidizing vacant property owner's properties. At the same time, because we are still going through differcult financial times, we have to continue to safeguard funds for our needed City Services. I also think that the owners of these vacant properties should be taxed at a higher rate to offset the costs that are currently being carried on the backs of hard working residents. It's time for the stakeholders to get a reprieve. This is a main concern that will help to attract and keep families in the City. I support the beginning efforts of the 'Vacants to Value" 6 Step program strategy that would generate revenue to the City, like stronger code enforcement implementation. I support expanding the local tax base through job creation in the City. All of these projects work hand in hand.

7. The city has faced large budget shortfalls in recent years. If that trend continues, what top priorities would you protect from cuts? In what areas would you pursue spending reductions?

The City's shortfalls, relates back to the declining population. Not enough residents' in the City to cover the rising costs associated with the day-to-day operation of the City. My major focus is on making sure our seniors are taken care of, that we continue with youth initiatives, recreation programs, public safety and job creation. As far as spending reduction, I would look at administrative costs.

8. Baltimore has lost tens of thousands of jobs in the last decade. What would you do to encourage economic development and provide employment opportunities for city residents?

To ensure that the laws and regulations that are already in place are complied with in a positive way to promote business growth. Making sure that people who live in the City can have an opportunity to work in the City. Ensure people and contractors that do business with the City, hire/train City residents.